Though the season is only three games old, there are reportedly some grumblings going on behind the scenes in Independence as a source tells WFNY that the big man would more than welcome a new team to play for. And, if his Dan Fegan-led representation has any say in the matter, the sooner this were to happen, the better.
As insinuated previously at WFNY, this news comes as little surprise given that Varejao is a 28-year old, talented big man who is now on a roster that is at least two years away from contending within the Eastern Conference. Signing a six-year contract under the assumption that LeBron James would be his teammate through the duration, Varejao now finds himself in a situation that is none too desirable for a player in his prime.
The Cavaliers will undoubtedly say that they are very happy with what Varejao brings to the table. And they should as Andy is a fan favorite, most recently being the fifth man introduced to Cavaliers fans at Quicken Loans Arena to a loud ovation. He may be the face of the franchise and is an excellent PR opportunity within the city of Cleveland. They have no intentions of trading the second-team All-Defensive player one week into the season.
The player will continue to say all of the right things, play his heart out on any given night and continue to be a consummate professional. But behind the scenes, as told to WFNY, his representation would gladly welcome a new home – preferably on a contending team – come the end of the 2010-11 season.
Some speculate that Varejao’s extended absence during training camp – recall, Andy spent time with his family during the passing of his grandfather – was very telling given that the big man missed the bulk of two weeks following his loss. Others wish to point to the ill-fated relationship between Varejao’s agent and the Cavaliers given the contract negotiations of the last few seasons, though this may be missing the target as Dan Fegan’s issues were more with former Cavaliers general manager Danny Ferry than current GM Chris Grant.
Thankfully, for Cleveland, the Cavaliers do not have to move Varejao. In addition, they may not want to move Varejao, at least as things stand today. Relative to other players on the roster (specifically Jamario Moon, Anthony Parker, Mo Williams, Antawn Jamison), Varejao is neither an expiring contract nor a contract deemed too rich for a rebuilding team. Given that Varejao inked a deal just last season that could keep him in Cleveland through 2014-15 and he plays a premium position, the team has all of the leverage in any negotiations.
Not helping Varejao’s situation is the fact that the Cavaliers have very little depth at center. True colors leaked through this past weekend as Cleveland was outrebounded 89-68 in back-to-back contests against the Toronto Raptors and Sacramento Kings – the Raptors were 23rd in the NBA in rebounding through the 2009-10 season.
Which leads to what the Cavaliers would need back in a potential deal for Anderson Varejao…
On the outside, it seems clear cut – a contending team with tradable assets, preferably at least one high-upside big man, maybe a draft selection or two. If we want to layer in an additional preference, we could add that it be to a team in the West as teams rarely choose to move players within their own conference. Targeted teams that immediately jump out in this regard are Portland, San Antonio and Oklahoma City; the former of which has been interested in Varejao for quite some time and the latter which offers a ton of youth and upside. As reported earlier this season, the Cavaliers would like to be a third team in a possible deal that would facilitate Denver’s Carmelo Anthony to a team of his liking assuming all of the criteria above is met.
As mentioned previously, the trade market within the first month of the NBA season may as well be an unofficial blackout period. Sure, teams are making calls to test waters, but in the end, teams also prefer to see how things shake out through about 25-30 games of play before they make any roster alterations.
Truth be told, if Anderson Varejao is with the Cavaliers three years down the road, the team missed on a golden opportunity to move what is currently their biggest trade piece. A 31-year-old Varejao then will be a lot different from a 28-year-old Varejao now. It merely comes down to the Cavaliers front office ensuring that they not only receive value that makes this team better in the long run, but also a package that they can spin to a fan base that may be in dire need of positive PR come the time a deal is made.
After all, Varejao bobblehead day is slated for March 8th, well after this year’s trade deadline.
In the meantime, Varejao will continue to suit up for the Cavaliers, hopefully maintain excellent health and help this team close the gap on the boards. Wins continue to be a goal for this franchise despite a weekend sputter – Varejao’s presence on this team undoubtedly makes them better. What the future holds remains to be seen.
Presently, Varejao remains as one of two players that were a part of the Cavaliers team that made it to the 2007 NBA finals. Through two games played in the 2010-11 season, Varejao is averaging 8.0 points (60.0 percent shooting), 9.5 rebounds and a blocked shot in 33 minutes per game. The Cavaliers currently rank 29th in the league in rebounding (35.0 per game) with Varejao amassing 27 percent of the team’s overall total.
(Update: As anticipated, Varejao tells the media that he is “happy in Cleveland.“)
(Above photos via Flickr and David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)